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  • Writer's pictureBen Turner

Maisie ***

Director: Lee Cooper

Country: UK

UK Release: Amazon Prime

Maisie Trollette is the UK’s oldest still-performing drag queen. Based in Brighton, she has been performing continuously since the 1960s. In this documentary, we hear all about her glamorous past, as well as following her as she prepares for a show to celebrate her 85th birthday.

On the one hand, this is a celebration of a bygone era, when drag queens were about big hair, sequins and innuendo. On the other, this is a warts-and-all observational doc that morbidly examines loneliness and mental decline. As a result, its reverence for Maisie is somewhat undermined by its hyper-real format. It flatters in one scene, then contrasts with reality in another, like the drag equivalent of The Iron Lady. Would this have been a more compelling film if it had been more a celebration of her life rather than a depiction of sad nostalgia? Probably.

We also meet the queen who was then (but now sadly departed) the world’s longest-performing queen, the American Darcelle XV who meets with Maisie to perform at her birthday show. Contrasting the latter’s British stoicism with the former’s American vim give us some fun fly-on-the-wall moments, but it’s the film’s archival dive that makes for the most interesting viewing. It’s just a shame it didn’t make up more of the film.

UK Release: Out now on VOD on Amazon Prime


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